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Adrian Karl Quist (1913–1991)

Australian tennis great Adrian Quist, who dominated the international circuit for Australia for 20 years, died of cancer in a Sydney hospital yesterday. He was 78.

Quist, who made 54 Davis Cup doubles appearances for Australia between 1933 and 1948, was the number one ranked player in Australia in 1936 and 1937 and number four in the world in 1937.

He was a member of the Australian Davis Cup team that beat the United States in Philadelphia in 1939, the first time Australia had won the Cup as a single nation.

At the time it was the only time a team had come back from being down 2-0 to win a Challenge Round.

"That was a very special tournament for us. We badly wanted to win," doubles partner John Bromwich said yesterday.

"That and winning the Wimbledon doubles title. Wimbledon in 1950 was special for Adrian and myself. It was the only time we played together at Wimbledon."

Quist, who was born in Adelaide in 1913, combined with Bromwich to win the Wimbledon title after winning the event with Jack Crawford in 1931.

He also won the French doubles in 1935 with Crawford, who died earlier this year, and the US doubles with Bromwich in 1950 — his last major tournament victory.

Bromwich, now living in Point Lonsdale, Victoria, said Quist had been a good friend and provided a good example to him with his sportsmanship.

"He was an extremely helpful person. He was always ready to assist.

"He was very special."

Bromwich said Quist's greatness on court was because of his ability and his determination to develop his game.

"He was intense. He never gave up. Players never actually knew if they had beaten him in a game."

Quist once said their successful partnership was because of an understanding that existed between the players.

"We did not talk much ... there was a thread between us on the court that never extended off the court." he told The Sydney Morning Herald in 1986.

Another doubles partner, Colin Long, said from Melbourne, "I believe he and John Bromwich were one of the greatest doubles pairs I've ever seen and they would be one of the outstanding doubles pairs in tennis for all time," he said.

"He was a damn good tennis player. We were good buddies, we shared rooms when we were travelling and he was a very good companion.

"He was proud to play for Australia and was proud of Australia's history. He believed it was an honour to play for your country. He wouldn't have liked the antics of some of these bad tempered players around now."

Long said Quist, whom friends called Adrian Karl, using his given names, had been a fine athlete, a proven champion and a man of great integrity and spirit.

"He went out of his way to help others in tennis," he said.

Quist won the Australian doubles title 10 years in a row, eight times with Bromwich and twice with Don Turnbull, and took out the Australian singles crown in 1936, 1940 and 1948.

He was captain-manager of the Australian Davis Cup team in 1948, and after retiring from tennis in 1950 he continued to take an active interest in tennis through his work for the Dunlop sporting goods company.

He was first employed by Dunlop in 1932, and became general manager of its sports goods division in 1963.

"He would employ young players and help them," Long said.

"Lew Hoad was one of those young players. Adrian got hold of him and was his early mentor."

Quist wrote in a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald in 1981, after Sweden's Bjorn Borg was not available to play Davis Cup, that he deplored the attitude which placed the winning of championships above the Davis Cup.

"For decades ... it was considered the pinnacle of a player's career to represent his country and I know of players of earlier years who would have sacrificed a couple of their fingers to have played for their country," he wrote.

"If the champion, whether it is Borg, McEnroe or Connors, cannot find time to play for his country in the Davis Cup then the spirit which is part of any team has gone from the game."

Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard yesterday paid tribute to Quist for his contribution to tennis.

"As a player, Adrian Quist ranks among the best of all time," he said.

"His career was interrupted by war just as he and John Bromwich reached the top of world tennis winning the Davis Cup.

"This break denied him a real chance of winning the Wimbledon singles title."

Pollard said that under Quist's leadership, Dunlop employed many great Australian players such as Rod Laver and Tony Roche, allowing them to continue their tennis careers.

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Citation details

'Quist, Adrian Karl (1913–1991)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 July 2024.

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